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For Your Customers` Sake, Be an Ethical Web Host
By: Terri Wells
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    Table of Contents:
  • For Your Customers` Sake, Be an Ethical Web Host
  • Deliver the Performance They Need
  • Keeping Customers Informed is Key
  • Security, Privacy, and Trust

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    For Your Customers` Sake, Be an Ethical Web Host - Keeping Customers Informed is Key

    (Page 3 of 4 )

    This brings us to the second important point that an ethical web host keeps in mind: customer service, or specifically, communication with your customers. Believe it or not, customers do understand that things happen sometimes; servers crash, or they need maintenance. Your customers will be a lot more understanding, however, if you let them know about emergencies as soon as they happen, or about maintenance enough in advance that they can take the appropriate actions if and when it has an impact on them. Do not leave them hanging, wasting precious time trying to figure out what is going on.

    Especially when it is something that directly affects a customer's website, it is important to let them know. For example, if one of your customers is using a script that is eating up resources, and you need to disable the script, the least you should do is send them an email at the same time as you disable the script, explaining why you are doing this. The two of you working together might even be able to come up with something that accomplishes the same thing as the script did, that eats up far fewer resources.

    One web host even makes this a point in their own code of ethics: "I will communicate with management, users and colleagues about computer matters of mutual interest. I will strive to listen and understand the needs of all parties."

    One way that web hosts and their customers communicate with each other is via trouble tickets. Many hosts have their system set up to automatically acknowledge trouble tickets. That's a start, but it's only a start. People expect automated replies; they know that the problem is not truly being taken care of until a human being sees it and gets to work on it. Train your support personnel to send replies to trouble tickets as they handle them, letting your customers know that the ticket has been handled. And don't suddenly close the ticket without informing the customer; the ticket isn't fully taken care of until the customer is satisfied.

    Another point relating to trouble tickets should be obvious, but has tripped up web hosts before. It is important to actually read the trouble ticket and understand what the customer's problem, question, request, or complaint is. Not reading the trouble ticket, or not understanding it fully, can lead to all sorts of problems. One web host customer mentioned sending in a ticket in which he requested something called "bigmailbox" for a certain specific domain. The support person changed the record for an entirely different domain, which caused the customer's site "to lose email capacity for two days until they eventually figured out what they messed up."

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